A new Pebble smartwach app created by a Toronto-based developer is making waves in tech news this week, having successfully illustrated the potential this wearable device has with the power of applications.
The seven-minute workout app guides you through 12 exercises using the Pebble’s vibrations to indicate when you need to switch sides or change to the next exercise. It's just one of many apps currently available for arguably one of the most successful wearable devices so far on the market.
Pebble doesn’t yet have an official app store but there are a couple of third-party libraries that are gaining momentum as the “unofficial” stores for Pebble watchfaces and other downloads. The ecosystem reminds me of early BlackBerry days where my hunt for apps was more community and forum driven rather than looking for recommendations from the centralized app store model made popular by Apple.
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Two popular Pebble libraries are MyPebbleFaces.com and AllPebble.com. AllPebble.com is a directory of apps which includes games, apps and watchfaces with over 162 apps in its library so far. UK-based MyPebbleFaces offers only watchfaces and boasts over 453 designs with 294,594 combined downloads according to the sites own download counter.
Both of these stores warn users that downloads of apps to their watch are at their own risk—a warm and fuzzy message for the true early adopter. All apps are free to download and are, for the most part, pretty primitive and—perhaps due to the e-Ink display—will make you completely nostalgic for your first Gameboy.
The process to get a third-party app on Pebble is actually really easy. After finding the .PBW (Pebble file format) download link on your smartphone’s browser, you only have to open the file and it will install itself in the Pebble app on your device. Once installed, the app can be accessed via Bluetooth on your Pebble watch.
The only challenging thing I have found so far is that Pebble has limited the number of apps you can add to your watch to eight. This limitation is especially difficult for a geek like me as its caused me to make some touch decisions on whether to keep my Pacman, Batman, Knight Rider or Super Mario watchface when trying to onboard my next app.
To help get you started with making your Pebble smartwatch even “smarter," here are my top three non-watchface picks for the Pebble device:
1. Pong: No early adopter should be caught dead without this classic arcade game installed on their first smartwatch.
2. Space Invaders: Second only to Pong, this arcade game is a great time waster and a perfect fit for the screen but unfortunately you need to turn your watch around to play it.
3. Calculator: This practical app will turn your Pebble watch into the calculator app you used to show off to your math friends in high school.
I expect that we will start to see some pretty neat applications come to market now that Pebble has updated their SDK to allow for two-way communication (think Traffic, Weather, Stocks) and are more focused on their developer community with the majority of initial Pebble backers now with devices in the wild.
If you have a Pebble app that you think deserves attention, let us know in the comments.